mosques and horror
This post is about a 13km walk within Edirne. I visit a bunch of beautiful mosques and see something disturbing.
Today was going to be easy. I wanted to walk from the southeastern edge of Edirne to its northwest, to a location that was in the old town and a bit closer to the border. Bulgaria was near, and Greece was even more near.
The weather report said that it was going to rain for the next two days. So I planned to rest up and do my laundry before entering the European Union. Also, I needed to get a PCR test.
The first part of my walk led me past a bunch of industrialized apartment blocks. Then the road climbed up a hill, and the houses became smaller as the streets became more narrow. I saw motorcyclists winding their way through the alleys, old ladies carrying groceries, and two cats doing it while a bunch of others were watching.
Then I reached a mosque.
the looted mosque
The Muradiye Mosque had been built in 1436 – it was one of the oldest of the Ottoman Empire. A guy was standing guard. I parked the Caboose next to him and went in. After I had closed the door behind me I was alone with the silence.
The Muradiye Mosque was small, and most of its tiled walls had been destroyed by looters in the decades and centuries before. The parts that were missing had been renovated in white plaster. Almost the whole interior was white.
And yet it felt magical.
It was hard to fathom, but this mosque had been built before the discovery of the New World, even before the invention of the printing press. It had stood here, silently watching over Edirne, while a few hundred kilometers further east the city of Constantinople was falling.
when we abandon them
I walked further north after that. The map said that the Edirne Palace lay just outside of town on the other side of a river. I wanted to see whatever was left of it, the seat of the Sultans up until their conquest of Constantinople. I wasn’t prepared for the banks of the river, though.
The whole area felt like abandoned territory. As I was walking along the river, I saw ruined buildings, grassland, and trash. At one point I heard a bunch of dogs barking, and then I saw them.
They were puppies, and they were chewing on a carcass. They looked up at me and barked in their puppy voices. Birds were nearby, waiting for them to be done with their meal.
I looked at the puppies and at the carcass. At first I thought it was that of a sheep, but it turned out to be another dog. It was a bit bigger than the puppies, and it looked just like them. They were eating their mom.
I turned away in horror.
It wasn’t much fun to cross the historical Saraçhane Bridge after this. And when I reached the place where the Edirne Palace had once stood, the area was closed off anyway. I looked at the fence and at the ruins in the distance, and when it started raining, I turned back.
I arrived at the Üç Şerefeli Mosque just as the rain was really starting to come down. Again there was a friendly guard. He told me where I could park the Caboose, then he gave me tea and showed me around.
The mosque was from 1447, so it was almost as old as the Muradiye Mosque. Only it was much bigger and architecturally sophisticated. It was called Üç Şerefeli (Three Balconies) because of the odd design of its minarets.
I loved this mosque. The courtyard with the red and white patterns of the arches, the interior with its prayer niches in the walls, the ever so intricate ornaments upon ornaments. When the guard showed me the staircase of one of the minarets, I was stupefied: there were three sets of stairs that led to the top, and they were all independent of each other. I smiled, unable to comprehend it.
I stayed until the rain had subsided a bit, then I started looking for a hotel. There was another mosque on the way, the Old Mosque. Just as the name suggested, it was the oldest one in the city.
I was pretty much overwhelmed at this point, but again I took my shoes off and went in. And when I did, one thought came to mind: maybe Edirne, former Adrianopolis, settled by Emperor Hadrian of Rome, seat of the Sultans until their conquest of Constantinople, was the city with the most beautiful mosques that I had seen in all of Turkey.
The new town in the east of Edirne:
Monument with bird:
Old town of Edirne:
Inside the Muradiye Mosque:
The part of the mosque that is reserved for women:
The way north:
Edirne Palace behind a fence:
Abandoned house in the old town of Edirne:
Selimiye Mosque under renovation:
Courtyard of the Üç Şerefeli Mosque:
Inside the Üç Şerefeli Mosque:
Barış, caretaker of the mosque:
Staircase of one of the minarets of the Üç Şerefeli Mosque:
The Old Mosque of Edirne from outside:
Inside the Old Mosque:
Hall of the Old Mosque:
Pedestrian zone in old Edirne:
Wow. That puppies story is quite disturbing. Feels like there have been a lot of sad incidents involving dogs in Turkey, more than in other countries you walked through.
Love your pictures!
Hoping the beauty and grace that you often encounter outshines the abandoned.